Financial

‘Admiralty Jurisdiction’ refers to the rights of those courts dealing with matters relating to shipping, to entertain a claim against either a ship or other maritime property or against a shipowner in his personal status as such. It should be emphasised that Admiralty law is not a system of law wholly divorced and separated from other areas of law. The essential principles of the Law of Tort, Contract, etc. form the basis of much Admiralty law. Having said this there is a separate and distinct body of Admiralty legislation e.g. Merchant Shipping Acts 1894 – 1988; the Merchant Shipping (Liability of Shipowners and Others Act 1958 to name but two. It is likely that any case involving a maritime issue will be dealt with in the Maritime Court which is part of the Queen’s Bench Division of the Divisional High Court of Justice. The High Court is the court of ‘first instance’ (i.e. where the dispute is first heard) and at one time it dealt with all civil claims involving a sum of money greater than £5,000. The County Court is the court of first instance for smaller claims, previously it was for cases involving a sum of money of up to £5,000: This has a similar procedure and corresponding governing legislation as does the High Court. i.e. The County Court Act 1984 and the County Court Rules. The financial distinction of £5,000 between the County Court and High Court’s jurisdiction is no longer in force. The distinction today is primarily governed by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. There is a lower limit of £25,000 for the High Court. Each court has the power to send cases to the other (Practice Direction 1991). Personal injury cases must be brought in the County Court unless the claim is worth more than £50,000. For other actions there is a considerable area of choice between the two levels of civil court.